— No. 121 —



Halloween is just around the corner, so what better liquor to feature than Strega (Italian for witch). Legend has it that the town of Benevento, where Strega has been made since 1860, was the meeting ground of all the witches of the world. I keep picturing a gaggle of witches sitting around a bubbling cauldron, cackling and stirring the 70 ghoulish ingredients that make up this liquor. Beyond the connection to Halloween, You’ve got to love the tradition. Today Strega is …

— No. 120 —



Suze Gentiane Liqueur is a bitter aperitif that’s been produced in France since 1889. Although, I did hear this latest recipe has been toned down a bit for the modern consumer. It’s creator, Fernand Moureaux, centered this liqueur around the flavor from yellow gentian root. The wild gentian is harvested from the mountains of the Jura and Auvergne regians. Gentian root is the main ingredient in bitters and is the main culprit for the bitter properties. Other notable flavors are vanilla and …

— No. 118 —



Zucca’s bittersweet flavor profile is somewhere between Campari and Amaro with a highlight of smokey, earthy, wood tones. So consider this when you are coming up with cocktail recipes to utilize this liqueur in. When sipping you may detect the flavors of gentian, cardamom, vanilla, smoke and a hint of citrus.

— No. 99 —

Smith and Cross Rum


Smith and Cross has been flying off my shelves lately. I must admit I’ve been joining my patrons in its consumption. And at the same time joining a historic tradition that traces its linage all the way back to 1788 as one of England’s oldest producers of sugars and spirits. Thank you Hayman Distillers and David Wondrich for bringing back this marvelous spirit. If you’re in the market for a new rum I highly recommend giving Smith and Cross a …

— No. 97 —

Bittercube Bitters


This summer I went out west on a cocktail tour, which included Seattle and Portland. I was sitting at the Tavern Law in Seattle and across the way I saw a guy that looked like one of the producers of Bittercube Bitters. I’ve always been a fan of this company. Their unique bitters are quality and their events are always intriguing. Unfortunately, I do not live anywhere near Milwaukee. Nick is a distinct character, so I moved down a couple …

— No. 95 —

La Distillerie Combier


I was lucky enough to meet the very personable Curt Goldman who is a partner of Cadre Noir, an importer of artisanal French liqueurs, crèmes and spirits. I emailed Curt and he promptly came out to the Maryland Club to promote his products. I’m glad he did. I was very pleased with the La Distillerie Combier product line, which is the oldest working distillery in France’s Loire Valley. The Combier website tells the story that began nearly 175 years ago at 48 Rue Beaurepaire …

— No. 83 —

Bonal Gentiane Quina


Bonal Gentiane Quina shares many characteristics with vermouth, amari and chartreuse. That’s because it’s an infusion of gentian root, cinchona (quinine) and herbs of the Grand Chartreuse mountains, all in a Mistelle base (fortified wine). Mistelle is the result of adding alcohol (usually brandy) to the juice of crushed grapes rather than fermenting them to produce the alcohol. This technique offers a sweeter, fresh fruit tone since the fructose hasn’t been converted to alcohol.

— No. 78 —

Aperol & Campari


Campari and Aperol are an acquired taste. I’m sure you know a few people who won’t touch the stuff and some that swear by it. I fall into the latter category. I appreciate their sophisticated depth and find the bitter component they bring to cocktails absolutely essential. If it wasn’t for Campari we wouldn’t have the time-tested Negroni or Americano. Both Aperol and Campari are Italian aperitivos produced by the Campari Group. Campari was created in 1860 by Gaspare Campari. Aperol was …

— No. 75 —

St. Germain


Spring is finally upon us. So lets kick it off with a bottle St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. If you go to the St. Germain website they’ll tell you the lovely story behind their artfully complex liqueur. It all begins at the foothills of the Alps, during but a few fleeting days of spring. Locals will handpick wild elderflower blossoms and bike sacks of these blossoms down the hillside to market.  These sacks will be the entirety of what will become St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.